JOANNES RIVIERE, CHEF & CO-OWNER CUISINE WAT DAMNAK, SIEM REAP "First of all, there is obviously the war, that has put the country 30 years back behind let's say Thailand. There is also the fact that even nowadays there is not a proper Cambodian food curriculum within the country of Cambodia, so there is no, at the end, maybe a proper identity to Cambodian cuisine. I was first asked when I came as a cooking teacher for an NGO to write a Cambodian cookbook. It was the first Cambodian cookbook written in French and it was the third Cambodian cookbook written in English in 2005, so there was nothing written about Cambodian food."
Cuisine Wat Damnak is popular among visitors and locals. Chef Joannès says the biggest compliment he gets from local customers is that his food looks Western but tastes Cambodian.
Chefs such as the two Kimsans and Joannès have started the important work of defining and promoting Cambodian food, but it will take a generation of young, passionate Cambodian chefs and foodies to spread their food culture around the world.